Tongs were vital to blacksmiths and other metalworkers. Their long handles permitted the Dominys to work on and retrieve hot objects from their forge without being burned. Blacksmiths required a variety of tongs, such as "beating tongs" used to hold a flat object on an anvil while it was beaten or shaped by the blacksmith's hammer. The Dominys also used spring tongs to manipulate graphite crucibles or lead-melting pots.

(Upper Right) Spring Tongs, Felix Dominy (maker/purchaser), 1817-1835. Iron. 27" (L). Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Belin du Pont, 1957.0026.588


Sliding tongs were used primarily by dock- and watchmakers to hold pins, arbors, or other small objects while they were being filed. If the ring which encloses both arms of this tool is pushed upward, this enables a spring to push the arms outward, thus automatically closing its jaws and exerting a clamping pressure on anything gripped by it. An advantage of the sliding tongs was that an artisan did not have to hold this tool to make it maintain its grip. It could be placed momentarily on a bench and would still hold whatever had been placed between its jaws.

Sliding tongs, 1790-1812. Iron. 4.2" (L). Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Belin du Pont, 1957.0026.403